This year my birthday is a little bit different, mostly because I’ll be thinking about my mom a lot more than I ever have on my birthday and partly because I can’t help but think back over the last five years.

Five years ago I was approaching the end of my first year of university, and it had been a long road getting there. I was enjoying my classes and I had a job that I loved, and was good at, and every day I was surrounded by a great group of people that challenged me.

Five years ago Joe and I were just friends, becoming good friends and I still didn’t know if I ever wanted to be married and I certainly didn’t think I wanted any children and I really, really didn’t think I would be married with a child before I turned 30.

Five years ago I had no idea my life would take a drastic turn just a month after I turned 24. I had no idea that I would feel something special happening between Joe and I and I would have the courage to invite him over to watch movies and he would take the opportunity to kiss me that night.

Five years ago I didn’t know that I was moments away from starting the beautiful family I have today – that I would fall in love with this wonderful man and together we would raise our dear little puppy and have a beautiful daughter. I didn’t know that the classes that I loved, along with my past in journalism, would lead me to a job that was perfect for me which, in turn, would give me the first real inkling of what I want to spend my life doing.

I knew who I was, but I didn’t know what I wanted or how to get there. I didn’t know what was coming next. Now I know. I know what path I want to set out on and who I need there with me. I know what I want for my daughter and I know what kind of example I want to set for her. I am surrounded at work by smart people and strong women that I want to emulate, and I know that they respect me too.

I know that I thought once the baby came everything would change, and while things certainly have changed, I still need to be the person that I am because I want her to be as strong as me, and stronger.

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